Everyone remembers their first school trip. I had the personal fortune that mine was also an international one and I will always fondly remember the natural beauty of the Brecon Beacons, in Wales and the local people who were very hospitable to our PGL tour group. I remember it especially well as it gave me the first chance to talk to people beyond my home county of Cheshire and allowed me to make new friends from an international exchange group in France.
In May 2013, the Accelerator programme hosted our own international exchange Jessika and Andrea from SE Forum, Sweden to share our collective knowledge about our Accelerator programme and their SE Outreach Accelerator. Our aim was to immerse them in two of our teaching days on the Social Business Model Canvas, so they can witness our delivery style first hand and we can receive feedback regarding the clarity of our approach. If you have time, do read their blog.
The over-riding rationale for this exchange was to learn more about their approach, and we had a professional interest in exploring how they implemented the methodology of the Kaos Pilots into their work scaling models of social innovation especially into the African Market. As we use the work of Alex Osterwalder as the inspiration for our own curriculum, it was particularly interesting to hear how design-thinking is being translated into new models of social innovation.
At a personal level, I also wanted to learn more about how their design-led approach could improve our own methods, as we look to collaborate on bigger initiatives such as Better by Design in Scotland and the Social Incubator fund within the European Union. While the application of design methods are proving very popular in London and Stockholm, it’s interesting to hear how difficult in can be translating technical language into practical resources for small social ventures and individual entrepreneurs to use in their own localities.
In the two days of teaching we shared our expertise on the Social Business Model Canvas and our understanding of the social investment market here in the UK. We also ate way too much cake. For me this wasn’t just another exchange trip. It went beyond my school experience of sharing an outdoor adventure holiday and meeting new friends, to a much deeper understanding of shared values. It was an inspiration to develop new learning, sharing ideas and develop a sense of a common goal. We gleaned an understanding of each others approach to scaling-up models of social innovation and helped each other find solutions to some of the challenges inherent in our work. Dare I say it, we also had fun.
We very much look forward to hosting them both again in June / July for the completion of our Spring 2013 programme, where we will also introduce them to our friends from Denokinn, Spain. They will both help get our social ventures ready to pitch for social investment and we will offer opportunities for any UK-based social investor to understand the opportunities that exist to invest in models that can scale across Europe.
The exchange was made possible with the kind assistance of the British Council in Sweden, to whom we are especially grateful for the opportunity to meet like-minded social innovators.